In tough times, who get hit hardest? According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “[a]t least 39 states have imposed cuts that hurt vulnerable residents.”
Why? Well, states have been spending at increasing rates for years now. And then came the slump, with less income — and fewer sales — to tax. So of course state revenues plummet.
And politicians must force themselves to do the thing they hate most: Cut.
But, as Steve Chapman argues in his column, “A Hole They Dug for Themselves,” simply by increasing spending no more than the rate of inflation, they would have avoided this. Chapman insists, “governors and legislators might have prepared for drought.”
One thing Chapman doesn’t say is that this spending limit idea has been on many states’ tables for some time. It’s often called TABOR, or the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Such measures constitutionally limit spending to the rate of inflation plus the rate of population increase. Only voters can break this spending cap.
But politicians hate such measures, oppose them for all they are worth.
So, we may pity the poor, but let’s not shed one drop of sorrow for the politicians.
And, if you live in Maine or Washington state, vote for the TABOR-like initiatives that will be on the ballot this November. Help yourself, help the poor — by forcing politicians to spend as if things could change and tomorrow matters.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.